American Farmland Trust, the organization behind the national movement No Farms No Food®, and longtime supporters Laura Lee Brown and husband Steve Wilson have announced an agreement to work together to protect over 2200 acres of farmland. The easement donations of world-renowned Thoroughbred farm and scenic agritourism destination Hermitage Farm, Longfield Farm and Meyer Farm in Kentucky; and Finley Farm in Indiana will join Woodland Farm's nearly 1000 acres already preserved. These farms will be protected from real estate development with permanent conservation easements ensuring that they will be kept available for farming. The agricultural conservation easements will be conveyed to AFT guaranteeing that the land is protected forever.
Continuing the legacy of Sally Brown, her niece, Laura Lee and husband, Steve, winners of the 'Linda Bruckheimer Excellence in Rural Preservation Award,' are calling attention to the urgent need to save Kentucky farmland from development, while improving life in cities.
“We are grateful for the vision and generosity of Laura Lee and Steve. Their longtime commitment to the preservation of Kentucky's rural heritage and resources and now their preservation of these beautiful farms deserves special recognition,” said John Piotti, president and CEO of American Farmland Trust. “We hope that the protection of these farms will spark actions by other farmers and landowners, as well as public leaders, in Kentucky to protect farmland for future generations.”
“Laura Lee and I both grew up on farms and understand firsthand the importance of protecting them for future generations,” said Steve Wilson. “We are committed to simultaneously preserving rural farms and revitalizing cities. We see these goals not in opposition, but as complimentary.”
Kentucky lost over 800,000 acres of farmland to real estate development from 1992 to 2012 and ranked in the top 20 states in the U.S. for the loss of farmland according to AFT's 2018 report “Farms Under Threat: The State of America's Farmland.” The Kentucky Agricultural Development Board and the Commonwealth of Kentucky have provided $29.3 million in funding to catalyze the conservation of 63,000 acres across the state. But, Kentucky's program has 667 applications currently pending for a total of over 129,000 acres with requests of over $100 million.
Piotti added, “Agriculture generates $5.7 billion in economic activity in Kentucky. It is often said that farmland is the factory floor of our agriculture, equine, agribusiness and agritourism industries. Taking action to protect this land is good for our economy today and critical to ensuring opportunities for future generations of farmers in Kentucky.”
AFT is an active agricultural land trust. For more information on how AFT works with landowners to protect farmland and ranchland with conservation easements, visit our Land Protection Projects page at www.farmland.org/protectmyland.
American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and supported a half million farm families. Learn more at www.farmland.org.
Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson share a passion for contemporary art. Through the 21c Museum Hotels brand they founded in Louisville, KY, they contribute to the revitalization of downtowns across the country. Both native Kentuckians, this husband and wife team has found success by letting their intuition serve as guide in hospitality, farming, preservation, and collecting contemporary art. Brown and Wilson also own and operate Hermitage Farm, a historic, working thoroughbred and sport horse farm in Goshen, Kentucky.
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